MEDIA RELEASE: Federal Court to Decide if Mumia Abu-Jamal Has Right to Hepatitis C Treatment

Attorneys for Abu-Jamal file brief slamming DOC for withholding treatment

On Friday, March 11, attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed their post-hearing brief in support of Abu-Jamal’s motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide him with treatment for his hepatitis C. The 30-page brief summarized the extensive factual record from a 3-day evidentiary hearing held at the end of December 2015.

During the December hearing it was shown that Abu-Jamal has a chronic hepatitis C infection that is progressively attacking his liver, causing scarring, a severe, itchy, painful skin rash that has lasted more than 18 months, and anemia of chronic disease. Abu-Jamal also experienced a nearly fatal attack of diabetes in March 2015 that is also likely related to his hepatitis C.

There were surprises at the hearing as well. The head of the DOC’s clinical services, Dr. Paul Noel, revealed that tests conducted by the DOC show that there is a 63% chance that Abu-Jamal has cirrhosis, which means that the disease has progressed to the point that it is causing irreversible and worsening inflammation and scarring throughout his liver. Despite the extraordinary danger posed by Abu-Jamal’s condition, Noel testified under oath that the DOC will not provide treatment unless a patient has advanced cirrhosis and the presence of esophageal varices, which means that the patient is at risk of bleeding to death.

As argued in Abu-Jamal’s brief: “It is shocking to the conscience that the DOC thinks it is acceptable to withhold medical care until one’s liver has suffered irreversible damage accompanied by such severe damage to the blood vessels that the patient is literally at risk of bleeding to death. No matter whether such “active surveillance” is called treatment or not, it is a gross departure from medical ethics and constitutional requirements.”

Dr. Noel also revealed on cross examination that DOC counsel had submitted a falsified document in his name in September in 2015 that contained inaccurate and misleading medical information that was then used as the basis for DOC’s argument against plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitioist Law Center and Robert Boyle.

Details about the case and related documents are here.